American singer and songwriter Pharrell Williams is known for his upbeat nature and colorful style. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the “Happy” artist has decided to pay tribute to Holi, the Hindu festival of colors with the release of the Hu Holi “Powder dye” collection. Created in collaboration with Adidas, it includes five sneakers, four apparel styles, and a towel — all of which sport a beautiful mix of colors. While the stunning footwear and clothing, which range in price from $80 to $250, will be released worldwide on March 16, they will be available in India on March 2 to coincide with the celebration of Holi.
Observed on the last full day of the lunar month Phalguna (in the Hindu calendar), the annual spring festival is popular with Indians worldwide. On this day, people young and old take to the streets early, greeting friends and strangers alike with a joyful “happy Holi,” before drenching them with colored powder, water-filled balloons and even buckets of colored water. At about midday, revelers head to nearby rivers and oceans for a quick rinse before returning home for a special feast and a well-deserved siesta.
The reason for this cheerful festival varies depending on the region of India. The most common belief credits Holi to Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons, and his son Prahlada. According to the ancient myth, the ruler was unhappy with his son’s devotion to Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe, and tried his utmost to discourage the young boy from worshipping the deity. When all efforts failed, Hiranyakashipu turned to his evil sister, Holika, for assistance.
Born with the power to resist heat, Holika invited her nephew to step inside an actively burning fire. However, thanks to Lord Vishnu’s divine intervention, Prahlada emerged unscathed from the flames, while the 'fireproof' Holika burned to ashes. The locals marked the victory of good over evil with a celebration that was similar to the modern-day Holi, and a fun tradition was born. To this day, Hindus worldwide begin the celebrations with a giant bonfire the night before the festival (March 1, 2018) to cleanse the air of evil spirits.
In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the holiday commemorates the immortal love story of the mischievous Hindu deity Lord Krishna and his beloved companion Radha. While most people in India celebrate the occasion for just one day, the residents of this state enjoy the festival for almost a month with different events planned every day.
The highlight of the festivities is the Lathmar (stick) Holi, which is observed several days before the 'real' Holi. The largest celebration takes place in Radha’s birthplace, the village of Barsana. On this day, the women stage a mock battle with men from the neighboring village of Nandgaon (where Krishna resided until the age of ten) to prevent them from hoisting a flag atop the temple dedicated to Radha. The women pretend to strike the men with bamboo sticks while the men fight back with colored powder. The following day, the women of Barsana return the favor by heading to Nandgaon to celebrate Holi — this time, with just the colored powder.
Though the folklore behind Holi may differ, the spirit of the spring festival remains the same. It is the day (or month) when people of all ages, cast, and creed set aside their differences and biases and immerse themselves in the happy celebration.
H a p p y H o l i !